West Midlands 5G (WM5G) has been awarded £2.4 million in funding to develop Open RAN (radio access network) solutions at its Birmingham Knowledge Quarter testbed.
Although radio access networks are present in current 3G and 4G mobile phone networks, these networks need to be adapted to make the best use of the opportunities offered by 5G.
WM5G, a not-for-profit owned by the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS), has obtained the money through the DCMS Future RAN programme, which is contributing to the government’s 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy.
The organisation is also working as part of the Accelerating Intelligence RAN in 5G consortium.
WM5G will provide the urban testbed to explore the opportunities and challenges in scaling up the 5G ecosystem in urban developments.
Robert Franks, Managing Director of WM5G said:
“This strategic move will enable new technologies to be utilised by some of the most progressive companies and vendors in the region, cementing WM5G as a leading player and forward thinker in the move towards Open RAN solutions.”
The RAN market is currently dominated by a handful of organisations working to Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards.
Developing Open RAN is aimed at providing additional space for new businesses to join the market.
The announcement comes soon after DCMS expressed an ambition for 35% of mobile traffic to be carried over Open Ran by 2030, with the provision of £36 million to fund projects dealing with the challenges involved.
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